The lovely village of Rowsley lies on the very edge of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, close to the Chatsworth House estate. It’s a peaceful, pretty place, surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside.
Rowsley is positioned at the point where the River Wye meets the River Derwent and there are many fabulous riverside walks starting from and passing through the village, including the long-distance footpath the Derwent Valley Heritage Way. The rivers attract anglers from all over the world, being home to wild rainbow trout, brown trout and grayling; the magazine ‘The Field’ once declared: ‘If you haven’t fished the Derbyshire Wye, you haven’t fished.’
The village of Rowsley has long been associated with the Haddon Hall estate. The Manners family of Haddon funded the building of the village hall, church, school and recreation field, and the Haddon estate still owns The Peacock inn and Caudwell’s Mill in the village.
Today, Rowsley is a thriving place with a close-knit community. It has a good collection of independent shops, including a wonderful art gallery and two popular pubs, both serving great food and fine ales. The Peacock is Grade II-listed and dates from 1652, originally built as a manor house. The Grouse and Claret was built after the arrival of the railway in 1849, at which time it was the Station Hotel.
The pretty church of St Katherine’s is relatively new, dating from 1855. A beautiful building constructed of local stone, it contains the tomb of the first wife of the 7th Duke of Rutland, Lady Catherine Manners, who died in 1859.
Rowsley’s long and rich history arises from the numerous mills that lay along both the River Wye and the River Derwent. One of these mills, Caudwell’s Mill, still stands on the outskirts of the village. This historic complex was once a busy, thriving roller flour mill, powered by water from the River Wye. The present mill was built by John Caudwell in 1874, although a mill has stood on this spot since the 16th Century.
The mill remains in working order, one of only about a hundred mills left in the country. It is open to the public (admission free), with a very impressive collection of historic machinery arranged over four floors.
The Mill is also home to gift shops, an array of craft workshops, a shop selling traditionally-milled flours, and a lovely café. There are nature trails along the river, where visitors can see kingfishers, dippers and wagtails.
Caudwell’s Mill is open daily from 1 March to 31 October, and then at weekends from November to February.
Rowsley South is the terminus for the preserved heritage railway line Peak Rail, which runs into Matlock. The line was once operational as the Midland Railway line that linked Derby and Manchester, cutting through the Peak District.
The original station at Rowsley was designed by Joseph Paxton, who also designed the Crystal Palace in London, and was opened in 1849. It was a popular route; at the turn of the century more than 17,000 wagons per week passed through the station and King Edward VII used it when he visited Chatsworth House. Despite this, Rowsley was a victim of the ‘Beeching Cuts’ and the line was closed in 1967.